Shopping – Got the Jimmy Legs


This could be everywhere

We had been dreading this past weekend for months. A few times a year we rent a Uhaul van and stock up at Costco, mostly for cat food. This time around we had more than Costco in our sights, though, so we needed the van for a few days. All told we hit Costco, Ikea, Home Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target and of course, Sahadi's (okay this wasn't really part of the agenda, but we did stock up on hummus and baba ganoush, which is already going fast).

This whole process was complicated immeasurably by all the snow we got nearly a week before. (more…)

And I know you like the feeling going up, going down

Does anybody remember the mall-store Merry-Go-Round? When I think of it, I still see green spandex, mesh-front shirts and headbands. To me, it was the apogee of 80s fashion, jumping on every ridiculous leg-warming trend and running it directly into the ground. But nobody seems to remember it now. I can't even remember if my local mall had one; I don't remember shopping there, but I do remember how much I associated it with my pubescent days. You don't see stores like that anymore; but what happened to it?

My theory: like so many icons of the 80's, I think Merry-Go-Round was killed by grunge rock. It killed a lot of things: hair-metal, knit ties, Kurt Cobain. And Merry-Go-Round (not to mention pretenders to the throne like Chess King, who, it may interest you to know, was bought out by MGR at some point. I don't know why I feel bad about this, but considering how ingrained 80's nostalgia is in our stupid culture (largely now by people who were not even remotely in existence during the aforementioned decade), you'd think there'd be some kind of monument to it. Surely, if it weren't for Merry-Go-Round, 80's culture as we currently regard it would not exist.

Info on the store is a bit scant, but I did find this bizarre, press-release style company history, that oddly doesn't mention that the company went bankrupt (had to find that elsewhere). But it notes the kind of forward-thinking that should have given it immortal icon status:

When pop star Michael Jackson appeared on MTV wearing a red leather jacket with 27 zippers, Merry-Go-Round sold more than 50,000 similar jackets at $29 each. Similarly, when the lead singer in the rock band Def Leppard performed in a video sporting a Union Jack sweatshirt with cut-off sleeves, a new fad was born. Merry-Go-Round sold over 40,000 copies of the sweatshirt at $15 each.

Merry-Go-Round managed to eke into the 1990's, but by 94 it was pretty much over. I'm not exactly sad about it, but I guess I feel the company doesn't get its due in pop-culture history. I'm also hopeful that I won't be spending any more time in malls so these admittedly dorky notions don't obsess me further. Though I do have some lingering questions about Orange Julius …

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ScoresThe other day I trudged uptown to the Bed Bath & Beyond way over past 1st Ave and 61st St. It's nice to have this big box store sort of nearby, but it's always a bit of a hike. I go by the Roosevelt Island tram, which is always fascinating in its total obsolescence (don't get me wrong, I hope they never dismantle it!) I also realized that the area I walk through also contains Scores, the 'gentlemen's club' once patronized by Howard Stern until his friend who worked there quit and now they go to a place called Ricky's.

Ugly from Day 1I also go by Trump Plaza Apartments, a building unique in its design in that no matter the time period, it always looked dated and tacky, yet without style. I dunno, maybe it's the super-scripty calligraphy noting the name of the building all over the place. I walk though part of Sutton Place as well, eyeing actual brownstones and fancy stores I shall never patronize. I balked when I first found out I would have to work in midtown; now I'm pleased to be able to see all these parts of the city I would never set foot in otherwise.

A rump named Trump buys a lotta junkAnyhow, I went to BB&B to buy a warm mist humidifier, because our house has been so dry this winter we are all suffering. I can't even pet the cats without creating sparks worthy of a Mr Wizard episode. Plus it's irritating my nasal passages (it's also possible the 10 cats currently in the house are adding to this). So I pick out a decent, basic model, thinking dimly that I should open the box to check it out before purchase.

E 61st townhouses"Aw, nah," I think to myself. "I don't wanna be one of those people who opens up boxes in the store." I don't know where this came from, but I had noticed a lot of the boxes had obviously been opened, including the one I ended up purchasing. Still my logic prevailed, I was above tampering with an item before I purchased it.

61st brownstonesThe box was just large enough to be cumbersome, one of those things that makes you conspicuous on the train. I managed to get it home with only a few scowls, and brought it up to our bedroom. I unpacked the humidifier, only to find a huge-ass crack in the plastic reservoir.

Roosevelt Island Tram docksAt first I thought I somehow cracked it in transit. But then I realized, that's why it was still on the shelf even though it had been opened. Somebody smarter than I had the foresight to make sure the damn thing wasn't all smashed up before they lugged it halfway across New York. Alas.

Feelin GroovySo today I had to drag it back. It actually worked out well, because at my initial purchase I had forgotten I had a coupon good for 20% any item (it was actually addressed to Matt but he has no need of the girly gear sold at such stores). So I returned the cracked one, and bought the replacement (I checked it out this time first) and saved ten bucks. I just hope this thing does the trick. I already feel like an old lady, now I'm an old lady with a humidifier.

Oh yes, and 10 cats.